MELBOURNE, Fla. – An 18-year-old Florida Tech student from Georgia was shot and killed when he lunged at Melbourne police and campus security Friday night after assaulting people with a knife in a residence hall on the university’s campus, officials said.
According to the Melbourne Police Department and Florida Tech’s Facebook page, police and campus security responded to a security threat at Roberts Hall just before 11 p.m. in reference to a man reportedly armed with a knife and assaulting students.
Cody, a freshman at Florida Tech who agreed to speak with News 6 on the condition only his first name be used, said he was attempting to leave Roberts Hall when a resident assistant yelled at him to go back upstairs because the school was on lockdown.
“As I was going back up the stairs, I saw a bunch of, like, blood dripping going up the stairs, and then for the second-floor doorway, or like, the door handle, there’s a bunch of blood covered on the door,” Cody said. “In our second floor ... there’s blood all over the floor and there’s blood on the doorways, on the door handles, on the like ID scanner, there’s blood.”
Cody said the student, identified by Melbourne police as 18-year-old FIT sophomore Alhaji M. Sow, didn’t live in Roberts Hall and believed Sow got blood on doors and ID scanners while attempting to enter areas restricted to him.
“At first, it was all like all over the door handles to go to my floor, so I didn’t know if he was, like, able to make it into like where I lived and stuff so, because at that time nobody really knew who it was,” Cody said. “So, I was kind of sketched out because he could have been, you know, on the other side of the door and I wouldn’t have known.”
[TRENDING: Man chasing students with knife at Florida Tech shot, killed by officers, police say | Michigan shooting suspect’s parents captured after son charged, each given $500K bond | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]
The incident occurred at 10:49 p.m., according to Melbourne police, and Cody said he and other residents of Roberts Hall weren’t allowed to leave campus until around 3:30 a.m. Saturday.
“They didn’t want us to leave our rooms just because all the blood was out there, like in our commons area, so we couldn’t like step on any of the blood or like touch anything when we were leaving,” Cody said.
Cody told News 6 he knew Sow and had spoken with him in the past, describing him as a “normal kid” who showed no signs that he would attack others.
“No, no, no signs at all,” Cody said. “He was a chill dude who, you know, I would play basketball with sometimes and stuff.”
Cody said he hadn’t caught up with many of his friends since the incident, but those who he’s heard from were shocked and upset because it happened on their campus and they weren’t told about it.
“We have like a giant group chat with everyone, with a lot of people who are in Roberts, and so I texted the group chat and that was the first anyone had like heard of the lockdown,” Cody said. “There weren’t any like, notifications sent out by like the campus security or anything like that, it was like all spread through social media.”
As of Saturday afternoon, Cody said that students weren’t being allowed to enter either Roberts Hall or Campbell Hall, and he was unsure of when he would be allowed to return due to the lack of official word.
“We haven’t received any, like updates or (if) classes are still going to be canceled or anything,” Cody said
Cody said that accounts of the incident told by police, students and the university were “conflicting.”
“We’ve gotten police reports and like the news station reports and stuff like that but from like what the students know and from what the police department knows and what the news says so far, is like, they’re all like conflicting stories,” Cody said. “The police report came out and said that it started in Roberts Hall, but, I don’t, I mean none of the students really think that happened, so I don’t, I don’t really know, I think the police need to like ask more students about what happened because the students know more than I guess really anyone else does because of just social media and stuff.”
Melbourne police said that one of their officers was injured in the altercation and the university said that no other serious injuries occurred, but Cody described hearing about a student who was “jumped” and had to be hospitalized, though he didn’t know if it was true.
T. Dwayne McCay, president and CEO of the university, said in a Facebook post Saturday that counseling and support services will be available for the entire campus and community for the coming days.
“Friday night’s campus incident where a student suspect died after reportedly threatening and hurting others is what we meet today,” McCay said. “I mourn any loss of life, while I also remain steadfastly thankful for the men and women who invest their lives in protecting us. The safest university campuses are the ones where students, staff, faculty and others look out for one another.”